January 29, 2013  |   Tips & Tricks

Justin Zinn: Advice for Building a Home Studio

Putting together a home studio can be an difficult task as many of you reading will know. Finding the right space, treating it correctly so as to minimise interference and avoid losing sound quality. Placement of speakers, the correct way to treat your space with curtains and sound proofing so as to avoid echo and so on… Plus you need to work out how to connect and power all your equipment. For most people this is all done without the aid of a professional, and we have to resort to trawling online forums for advice, which can be a mission in itself. Thankfully Justin Zinn has put together his own handy guide to setting up a home studio, by no means the be-all and end-all of guides, but very useful nonetheless!

PB+’s Marcus Barnes caught up with Justin to ask him all about the guide and his own home set-up…

Why did you decide to do the book?
I was signed up to a few music forums and then, one day, out of pure frustration I thought all that information should be presented in a more user-friendly way. I find that almost all forums are very badly laid out and that it can be tough to find accurate and relevant information. It always seems as though the threads that were posted would often stray off into useless chit chat, so I decided to start something different – to publish relevant information that can be easily understood and will give you the answers you seek. It’s all about the user experience and making it as simple as possible. I decided to write my first guide about home music studio setups. When I started the project, the main issue for me regarded getting the most accurate sound representation from the room as possible. As most aspiring producers start out with some sort of home studio, I felt it was a good starting point.

How long did it take you to put together your own home studio? At what cost?
I went through three home studios in the five years that I have been producing. With the knowledge I now have, my latest studio was set up within a couple of hours. Once you know the fundamentals, it becomes very easy to set things up, then it’s all trial and error. I took the route of buying wall treatments and bass traps. This was a big time saver as installing them was a very easy. With all my gear and wall treatments I’d value my studio at roughly £2500. However it was considerably less when I first started and things can be done a lot cheaper when you shop around for second hand goods or check out YouTube for great ways of making acoustic treatments yourself.

What advice did you get when you started work on your home studio?
I was lucky to have some good friends who knew a lot more than me when I first started out. They would come round to my house and give their own advice on how to place my speakers and how to counter acoustic issues I was facing. Saying that I still had to do a lot of research and I spent hours on Google teaching myself the facts.

Where did that advice come from?
The advice came from friends who had studied various music courses and also had studios of their own. Funnily enough, one of those students had recently completed the music production and sound engineering courses at Point Blank.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the process of making your studio?
I always like to start with speaker placement and then design the studio around the final resting place.

What does your home studio consist of? I.e. what equipment do you have in your set up?
At the moment I have a pair of Rokit KRK 5 and Genelec 8030A monitors, Novation Impulse 25 midi keyboard, audio 6 sound card with a Mac Pro operating Logic Pro 9. My wall treatments were all made my a company called Auralex. I bought them second-hand but they do some great complete acoustic kits if you have the extra cash

What improvements are you looking to make to your studio?

I have recently moved to Manchester so I am still on the hunt for a new studio space… an improvement will be to get all my gear out of the boxes!

What kind of music are you making?
I tend to keep my music deep and groovy… house that is. That said, I am still in an experimental phase in search of my own unique sound. Check out my Souncloud for my first release on Lucidflow Records.

LF039 – MoodWarp, Quintin Christian and Vandermeer – Illusion (10. Feb.2013) by lucidflow

What’s your favourite piece of kit?
Definitely my monitors. I have always been drawn to the Genelec brand. Definitely a ‘dynamite comes in small packages’ kinda monitor.

How long on average do you spend in the studio?
I like to spend at least 3-5 hours a day working on my music although I can easily get stuck in all day over the weekends.

Where would be your dream studio location?
For me I am drawn to Berlin. Many of my favourite artists and labels are based there and I find German people to be very open minded when it comes to electronic music.

What are your hopes for the future?

Well, I am always looking to learn more and more so I will head back to college in 2014. When my music supports my lifestyle without doing a second job then I will be in a happy place. I would like my own record label one day, that is my biggest vision for the future.

Justin Zinn’s booklet is available from >> HERE. Feel free to add your own comments and advice or to contact Justin himself!